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Beyond Solitary Play in Computer Games: The Social Practices of eSports

This article adopts the theory of social practices as a critical lens for understanding computer game consumption as multiple ‘nexuses of doings and sayings’, which represent the elements of and are situated within the broader context of consumer culture. Specifically, we explore an emerging phenomenon of an organised and competitive approach to computer gaming, referred to as ‘electronic sports’ or ‘eSports’, by offering a novel conceptualisation of eSports as an assemblage of consumption practices. In our endeavour, we illustrate that eSports practices are performed by consumers through multiple interconnected nexuses of unique understandings, tools, competencies and skills, whereby these nexuses transcend the elements of digital play to include the watching and governing of eSports. Accordingly, eSports consumers take on multiple roles beyond being considered merely as ‘players’, engaging with this phenomenon using different nexuses of practical activities. Our findings suggest that, in order to gain a more comprehensive perspective of what consumers actually do with computer games, we should explore gaming consumption in relation to different social practices that co-constitute multifaceted consumer engagement within this genre.